An Interview with Mita Balani
Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external hard drive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?
I have a few relegated short stories, but not a full length novel. Breaking Norms is my first. After finishing the first draft in 2013, four years was too long to take it to the finish line. But I am glad, I did it.
Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?
Writing fills my heart with joy. I always have one or two story ideas running in my head. But with my primary job that pays the bills and mother/wife duty, writing takes the third priority in the list. So I am not sure if a novel a year be possible for me. But for sure more will come out.
I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?
I am sure those writers must be beyond devastated if the café closed down. I have written in different places based on circumstances the Public Library, one specific Starbucks near my home and even while waiting in line for something. But I find my creative juices working better when I write using one particular desktop in my office/study room. I use digital medium the desktop or the phone to write.
Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?
Yes, I consider myself very lucky to have a husband who played a role of the first reader and the critique both. I also have other 3 amazing family and friends who read the first rough draft. Their feedback helped to polish the story.
Regarding editor, I chose one online editing service based on online reviews. Paid a hefty amount, but was not happy with the results. So I ended up editing it myself all over again. For my next one, one of my good friends has volunteered to help with editing. I am grateful to have amazing family and friends around.
I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?
I love the smell of the new paper books. But in last seven years, I have become fan of e-books just because I can read the e-book on my phone anywhere, anytime. I buy all my e-books on Amazon and paper books for major parts on Amazon as well. I also enjoy listening audio books while driving. I get all my audio CDs from local public library.
I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind?
I grew up reading the books in regional language (Marathi in India), then transitioned to reading in Indian National language (Hindi) before I read English novels. So my favorite authors till young adults are from that region of India where I grew up. As a child I hardly read for fun. So I can’t really say who my favorite author from Childhood is.
Adolescence: P. L. Deshpande
Young Adult: Gulzar (love his poetry)
Adult: Khaled Hosseini
Favorite genre: My reading liking changed after my young adult time. Since then I enjoy reading soulful and emotional tales with a hint of romance.
Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job.
Have you chosen someone to manage your profile?
I thought about it initially, but then dropped the idea considering the financial aspect of it.
I am still in the phase of exploring different options. I haven’t spent much time promoting my debut fiction yet due to so much going on in my personal life at the moment. I hope to promote more in near future.
So far, my favorite platform has been Facebook. Before book launch, for about two months, I spent two hours every alternate day, learning/implementing what I learned, making mistakes on the way and learning from those mistakes as well.
I use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and blog once in a while.
Answering interview questions can often take a long time! Tell me, are you ever tempted to recycle your answers from one to the next?
Even though I have been running 103 fever for last couple of days, I answered these questions from scratch. But I am thinking about your question….hmm…I will not be tempted to recycle the answers or will I? 😉